Life Verse.

When I learned that all the members of The (Truett) Cathy family all have life verses, I 1) thought it was a really good idea and 2) felt immense pressure to decide on mine.  But, how would I choose ONE verse to symbolize, represent my whole life?  In true ADHD form, when something seems too big or too overwhelming, you #squirrel, and forget about it.

Years and years later, Ben and I were 2nd grade small group leaders at our church, and our lesson was on encouraging others.   1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore let us encourage one another and build each other up.”.   That’s it!  My life verse.  It doesn’t represent who I AM but WHAT I want to do/be.   In a world of darkness, differences, and separateness, I want to be an encourager, a builder-upper.

What’s your life verse?  How did you discover it?  da8bff911391791b9646ceeee84562c9

#bethereasonsomeonesmiles #bekind #dontcrushthekids

Watch this quick video.  

This video.  It’s 100% why I share.   Because, I can’t not.  Because of beautiful little boys like this little boy, with a sparkle in their eye and a love for life.  They need an advocate.  They need a voice.  Because without one, they become another statistic.   Another drop out.  Another underperforming student who was in fact, left behind.  I can’t sit back and watch it happen.  Not to my little boy, or yours.  

When it was my beautiful little boy, with the bounce in his step and the sparkle in his eyes, it infuriated me when the lady in the carpool line yelled at him and his sister every day for taking too long to get out of the car.  Wouldn’t “Good morning, guys!” have been a better start?  This negativity and ambivalence continued throughout their day.  In the hallway, in the classroom, in the cafeteria.  Oh, don’t even get me started on the cafeteria!  As four year olds, they were labelled and punished and given long lists of what was bad.  No wonder my son hated to go to school.  I hated to take him (and his sister!) there!

There is a way to make sure that you have a classroom full of children who are respectful and cooperative WHILE encouraging a LOVE of learning.   Thankfully, that’s exactly what we have gotten since we left that school.   My children are motivated, eager to learn, and thriving.   And greeted with kind words and hugs!   Our children are way too fragile to squash their enthusiasm and passion right out of them just because we have been jaded by life and circumstances. 

Disclaimer:  For us, a private school was the answer.  But, I don’t think it’s THE answer.  Having adults who value children and understand the importance of acknowledging a child, praising him/her for a job well done, and demonstrating kindness to them through example makes all of the difference.  Discipline my child when needed, but not before you validate him as a human being! 

Fidget Spinners.. love them or hate them??

So, fidget spinners are suddenly all the rage in our little town, and lots of little towns, I suspect.  My kids both came home from school about a month ago insisting that they must have one yesterday NOW.  I laughed at them, told them they had been on my Amazon wishlist for months, and no way, they did not NEED them NOW.

Because I am not a teacher, whose classroom has been disrupted by 20 little people whose hands and minds are suddenly occupied by spinning objects, I don’t hate fidget spinners.  Have you tried them?!  They’re actually quite fun, and quite good at the purpose for which they were created.  But, I totally get how they would be a distraction in a classroom as well.

The spinners are marketed for kids/people with ADHD and Anxiety, and equally as a person with these things, a mom to kids with these things and a nurse practitioner, I agree that they can be beneficial for both.  Often fidgeting is a huge part of anxiety- ya’ll, I actually remember in high school youth group thinking “I am so nervous about singing (not in front of people, just WITH people), so I will twist my watch over and over.”  Other people chew on their nails (or their clothes), twist their hair, wring their hands, constantly look at their phone, etc.  Insert fidget spinner, and the hands and the mind are occupied with something more socially acceptable than chewing on your shirt-sleeve.

One of my ADHD kiddos would have done better in class with a fidget spinner and the other worse.  Sydney would have been so distracted by it and hyperfocused on it, that it would have completely made her forget that she had actual work to do (which is, I suspect, why teachers hated it, as most of their class probably had similar reactions!)  Eli, however, would have really benefited from it, and was the reason it, among other cool contraptions (see below!), were on my Amazon wishlist!  Often hyperactivity is not the typical “wild child” that you think of.  Often it looks more like the need to constantly move— kicking feet, tapping hands, shredding paper (or anything else you can destroy– paper, pencil erasers, etc.).  THIS is where the fidget spinner could actually be helpful to kids who have this constant need to move, and be able to exist in a classroom without being a distraction.  As a matter of fact, would likely replace behaviors that were already a distraction, like tapping the desk, kicking feet, or humming.

Unfortunately the creators of these cool little tool/toy did not take into consideration that the population to which they were marketing (ADHD/Anxiety, etc.) are often chewers by nature.  It only takes a quick google search to find tons of news stories about kiddos choking.

So, I think they are pretty cool little toys, but amid the safety concerns with choking hazards and lead levels, I definitely think they should be monitored, used in moderation, and not sent to school.

Some other super cool things that are also helpful are:

Do you have any amazing products that have helped your kiddo that doesn’t fit the cookie cutter?  I would love to hear about it!

A Long, Overdue Update

2016 was a year of discovery for our family.  First, we confirmed what we all already knew.  Poor Ben was surrounded by a bunch of #squirrel amazing people, who lack in executive functioning skills.  We’re amazingly creative, kind, compassionate people, but we may need you to redirect us a few times, because we get distracted along the way.  AND, we may talk your ear off.  🙂  Sydney, Eli, and their awesome mommy were all diagnosed with ADHD.  This diagnosis for myself was not surprising at all, especially looking back.  As we were completing forms for our kids, Ben laughed and asked me when I was having my evaluation.  I wasn’t at all offended.  I had seen myself in SO MANY of the questions.  And our kids pediatrician asked me straight out which parent had more of these tendencies.  She said in her experience it is not uncommon at all for her ADHD patients to have, you guessed it, an ADHD parent.

I would like to say that the past year was filled with support from everyone around us.  This is both true and untrue.  The people who matter— parents and grandparents, teachers, closest friends— all get it and support us.  However, the rest of the world starts their response with “Have you tried…?”  It has truly become my passion to learn as much about ADHD as possible and share it with everyone I know.  These medications, you know— the horrible, dreaded, avoided things you read about online— have saved my family.  They have allowed us to have dinner together.  For my children to participate in activities both in school, extracurricularly, and at home, that there is no way they could have done without it.  They have allowed my daughter to write her letters correctly instead of mirror-image backwards.  They have allowed my daughter to experience lights and sounds without wanting to cover her ears and cry.  They have allowed my son the ability to go to school and not be antagonized by his teachers.  He can sit right side up in his chair (un-medicated Eli is a bat– preferring to sit upside down.  Don’t ask, I have no idea!)  They have allowed me to get the thoughts from my head out of my mouth.  They have allowed me not to interrupt constantly in conversations.  They have allowed me to care for my patients without constantly forgetting things that are not safe for me to forget.  These medications are not “chemical babysitters.”  I promise you, my children still talk incessantly most of the time, still climb things, still argue, still get louder than they should.  BUT, they are also able to sit in their chairs (most of the time) when it’s expected, read a book, play a game, or fold a load of towels.  They don’t walk around like little zombies.  Again- they’re still loud and crazy, but just functional, loud and crazy people!  There are zero euphoric effects from the medication.  As a matter of fact, the only two differences I actually feel when take mine is that 1) Words don’t get stuck in my head and 2) I don’t want to nap constantly.

The last time I posted was over a year ago.  I’m sorry for that.  We’ve been super busy.  (Read above- not a chemical babysitter.  My kids were busy climbing things and doing crazy things that needed supervision!)  My last post focused on finding the right medication for our kiddos.  Fortunately, following our highly symptomatic start, we have had an uneventful medication history.  Both Eli and Sydney have been on Vyvanse for the last year, and done AH-MAZING.

Unfortunately, the dreaded side effect of suppressed appetite has become an issue for us this year.  We have been able to make a few lifestyle changes and keep our medicines on board and keep our kids from losing weight.  For one, we try to make sure they have a pretty big breakfast, and we’ve moved our usually early 5pm dinner to much later as the meds are wearing off.  That means the kiddos are usually roaming the kitchen as they eat, but they do clean their plates a lot of nights, so I’m picking my battles there!  I also find myself answering “No!  Oh wait, you want a snack?  Yes, go eat.”  I fear this will be a battle that we have to continuously monitor and keep a close eye on, but I think with the right modifications, we will be able to keep our kiddos at a healthy weight while also able to treat their ADHD as well.  (“I heard that if your kids eat x-y- and z, they won’t need meds.”  YES, we tried diet modifications for years actually before they started medication.  We saw MINIMAL difference– with the most difference seen eliminating Red Dye #40- which we still try to avoid.   Although diet plays a role, as it does with almost everything, if your child truly has ADHD, it is not going to fix them.)

My previous ADHD posts focused a lot more on Eli.  As a matter of fact, I’m not sure I had publicly told you guys about Sydney.  As mentioned above, two of the biggest victories for her I really wasn’t expecting.  The girl had been turning her letters backwards since she was 3.  Everyone kept telling me I wasn’t supposed to worry about it until she was 7- that this was normal.  But, I was worried.  She knew how to read and write her letters for years, but yet her papers continuously came home mirror-image backwards.  The medication for ADHD  slows her down enough to focus on writing it correctly.  This concern has disappeared for us.  The second huge win for her is that Sydney had been insanely sensory-sensitive.  In fact, I spent a long time not thinking she had ADHD and thinking she had sensory processing disorder.  Except, no pediatrician wanted to go there with me since it is a part of the autism spectrum and Sydney clearly demonstrated no autistic characteristics.  I felt so ignored and helpless in that arena.  My beautiful, “normal” daughter freaked out in a movie theatre.  When the climax music came on, she would bury her head into our shoulders and whisper in our ears how scared she was.  She would cover her ears with both hands during tap class, and then come out with tears in her eyes and tell me “It’s just so loud!”  These were not the symptoms I expected to improve with she started medicine that allowed her to remain in her seat at school and at dinner.  But, as it changes the way she processes sensory input, she now sees and hears lights and sounds like a “normal” person.  Not like someone who sees flashing, lightning like lights and hears sounds super amplified to the point of distress.  She can now fold a whole load of towels, instead of fighting me for 25 minutes about folding one.  She can now sit down and read a chapter book, and read for enjoyment.

Although Ben and I know without a shadow of a doubt that we have made the right decision for our children, we don’t get a lot of objective evidence of that.  The other day, as I was cleaning up breakfast trash from that morning, I noticed that Sydney’s medicine was with her trash (not because she intentionally didn’t take it, but #squirrel).  I quickly said a prayer that her day had gone ok.  That afternoon, I got an email from her teacher that just said “Hey!  I was just checking in to see if anything different had happened with Sydney’s routine, because she was bouncing off the walls today.”  HA- parenting Tigger is often how I have described my two amazing and crazy kiddos.  I smiled and disregarded the email, as I knew exactly what had “changed.”  The next week, I got Sydney’s graded papers from the week before, and ya’ll, they stopped me in my tracks.  On Wednesday, Sydney took a Math pre-test (which looks almost identical to the real test), and she made a 94.  On Friday, the day she forgot her medicine, she took the real test.  It didn’t look like the same kid’s handwriting.  And, she made a SEVENTY FOUR.  There were many, many skipped questions (as a matter of fact, that’s where all of her missed points went.  She didn’t get any incorrect, she just skipped a ton).  And at some point, she changed from using her pencil to a purple crayon.  I giggled as I imagined her taking her test and #squirrel, “What a pretty crayon!  I’m going to make my paper look prettier than it would if I just used this pencil.  I bet my teacher will love the purple writing!  She loves purple!”  Not often do parents of ADHD kids get before and afters of what their kids can do on and off medicine.  I will probably frame these tests.  When someone says “Have you tried…?,” I won’t even have to answer.  I’ll just show them the evidence.

Eli has continued to do well.  He struggled the most in school pre-medication.  Like, behavior problems as a 3-4 year old.  I fought a constant inner battle of Am I enabling or advocating??  I agonized over how he would make it through school.  I imagined I would likely have to quit work and homeschool this amazingly bright kid who seemed to be so misunderstood by his teachers!  He has excelled academically in 1st grade.  He is reading beautifully, and enjoys reading chapter books (melt my momma heart!).  He loves reading trivial facts about random things and learning about history, and does both often and independently.  He has had to take very few of his tests this year, because he makes 100s on the pre-tests earlier in the week.  He’s equal parts good at reading/language as he is at math/science.  Due to being preceived as the “bad kid” and his lack of spatial awareness (read, he might plow right through you- watch out!), one of my biggest concerns for him at the start of this school year was that he lagged behind socially.  I’m so excited about how far he’s come this year with that as well.  He’s made sweet friends and doing incredibly well all around!  Don’t think everything is perfect, or we don’t struggle, but, oh the improvement!!

I don’t write this to tell everyone all our business or try to influence anyone to do anything that they don’t want to do.  But, I also know how much of a struggle this is for many of you, who are struggling alone and without support.  (I know this, because you messaged me last year and told me about it!  You told me your in-laws, parents, friends all told you how bad medications are, despite how much your child struggles socially and academically.)  I just want to be a story you can remember about a family that didn’t have a horrible experience with medication.  A college educated mom and dad who made this choice for their kids.  A mom who has a master’s degree in nursing.  A family that functions oh.so.much better because of this choice.  This is a topic that I am passionate about and happy to talk about, so if you have any questions or want to chat, feel free to send me a message, a text, an email.

Take a minute to watch this amazing video.   It’s sad, true, and inspiring at the same time.

My crazy ADHD kiddos, I will walk beside you in the rain all of the days, and continue to see the amazing things you do, even if it doesn’t fit the mold!

Our {ADHD} Journey Continues

I don’t know if back-blogging is a word, but if so, that’s what I’m doing. This post is another one previously shared on my personal site, but is important to our story!  🙂

From talking to many parents of crazy, more active than normal, kids with ADHD, it is not uncommon for kiddos not to do well on the first medication the physician tries.  However, I was surprised to hear that many try one medication, it goes wrong, and they stop the process.  There is usually not a one medication fix all for many disease processes.  For example, a doctor often has to try many medications before they get it right for high blood pressure.  Difficult ear infections.  High cholesterol.  So, I am way too stubborn to quit that easy.

Fortunately for us, and for my sweet Eli, the second medication we tried he did not have side effects from.  His dose was so low that we also didn’t notice much improvement in behavior, but after our first experience, there was victory in NO SIDE EFFECTS!!  So, last week, we doubled that dose, and have had a very good week.  He says that he is finishing his work on time in class and not having time out in after school care, so those are definite school victories.  The sweetest difference I have seen is that the child who has never enjoyed coloring or writing, is drawing awesome pictures.  The other night, he drew a picture that included a sky, an ocean, and a person scuba diving in the ocean with goggles.  This was wwwayyy more detailed than anything he would have ever had the patience to attempt prior to medication.  It’s the little things, ya’ll.  I don’t want my babies medicated zombies.  In fact, if I see their crazy personalities fade, we will have to come down on their doses.  But, I’m excited about the little, and normal things that they miss because they’re so active.
I am super thankful for a pediatrician who takes the time to talk to me, doesn’t treat me like I should know everything (or nothing), and doesn’t treat me like my parenting is the reason that my kids, and our family, needs help.

Our ADHD Journey

The beginning of our story.  I originally posted this on my personal blog site– March 12, 2016.

After years of feeling pulled in different directions- literally chasing kiddos through parking lots, our house, and stores, we made a decision that was not easy for our family.  We decided to have our children (the big two) evaluated for ADHD.  I had no doubt what the evaluations would show.  Both Ben and I, plus the kiddos teachers had to complete questionnaires about their behavior, as well as their response to peers and certain situations.  Last Tuesday, I had Eli’s evaluation with his pediatrician, and she revealed what I suspected.  He does not show much hyperactivity, but inattention and poor impulse control.  Since we have already done all of the recommended diet changes, behavior modification, etc., we decided to start medication.  I decided to wait until the weekend so that I could monitor him- and now I am so thankful for that decision.

Just like with most medications, the strategy is to start low and go slow.  Most of the time, you will have a subpar dose initially, but this decreases having too much medication on board.  Boy is that not what happened for us, despite our pediatrician starting low.  This morning, Eli seemed quite focused- wanting to color and write (which he never does, because like his mom, it takes too long to do it perfectly, so he just doesn’t do it).  But then, we started to notice odd facial movements, like moving his mouth all around, flailing his arms all around, and talking 900 miles per minute (all of which are very out of character for him).  He was even aware that his mouth was doing weird things that he couldn’t stop.  As a nurse practitioner, I very rarely call my pediatrician’s office line for advice.  Like, maybe I have twice total for all three kids.  Tonight, I called.  And apologized a lot.  But I called wanting to know what in the heck I should do.  Maybe he isn’t ADHD and this is a stimulant reaction?   Should we continue tomorrow and the side effects will subside?  The doctor on call said it was definitely not normal and we should definitely not take it tomorrow.

The decision to medicate at all is a very hard decision.  As with most mental illnesses- depression, anxiety, ADHD, PSTD, etc.– the general consensus seems to be if we could just discipline more, just get over it and be happy, just choose not to feel a certain way, we, or our children, will be fine– no medication needed.  Fortunately, we have an amazing pediatrician who reassured what I already know, and that is that the above is the not the case at all.  Behavior modification, diet, counseling all have a role in mental illness, but so does medication in many cases.  She reassured me that we would never withhold medication a child with a diagnosis of diabetes or asthma, nor should we withhold medication from our child with ADHD.

So, it’s already a hard and pretty judged decision, and now this reaction.  I am asking for your prayers that this medication gets out of Eli’s system quickly and easily, and that we find a good fit for him quickly and without more failures along the way.  And that, you know, he actually sleeps tonight, because so far, that does not look like it’s in our future!

First blog post— Our Journey to Now

June 28, 2010.  My first blog post.

What a fun journey it has been.  During all of the crazy and overwhelming times, and believe me, there are many, I am overcome with emotion when I think about the fact that this journey I am on, this very journey that is nearly killing me, is absolutely everything I ever hoped it would be.  And for that, I am so very thankful!  Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…..  🙂

The Journey to Now

Our life is so crazy hectic (and fun!) that I am too busy to write down all the fun and adorable things Sydney and Eli are doing, so I decided to start a blog mostly so I can write down all the things I’ll never remember!

During the long two years from starting to try to get pregnant to miscarriage to not being able to get pregnant to finally Sydney, I would have never made it without all of the blogs of other people who were either going through what I was, or who had already gone through it and finally had a baby! Our story was so crazy, I always said I would need to post it for others looking for answers!

It started off like every other young couple who’d decided to try to start a family! January 2007.. off the pill! I hadn’t graduated nursing school yet, so I lied and told everyone we’d get pregnant in June. Well, we did. And at 6 weeks, we lost that baby. Not so desperately traumatic, we’d just try again. Well, months, and months went by with no baby! I actually stopped having periods. (Sorry if this is TMI, but this is for all those TTC and looking for hope!) I had to have a period induced with progesterone and then take Clomid to ovulate. Which, I did for 5/6 months you’re allowed to take Clomid. Hot flashes. Mood swings. AWFUL! I couldn’t take it any more, so I stopped taking Clomid and I also stopped eating transfats, stopped drinking caffeine, worked out, took Gerritol (A baby in every bottle!), went to a foster care meeting, and had an appointment w/ fertility doctor!) In the midst of this horribleness– every person I’d ever been friends with got pregnant (or so it seemed!) And even every celebrity who couldn’t get pregnant before– J.Lo, Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman– did! So, I stopped Clomid because I was miserable. And then I still had no period! What was wrong with me?! Negative pregnancy tests. Dr. actually wanted to send me to infertility specialist at 22 years old— without doing any tests first.
So, Ben and I went to get a second opinion from that same office (there were 5-6 OBGYNs there) aobout why I wasn’t starting/ovulating. Hypothyroidism? Stress? Body confused from the miscarriage? We had several theories, but pregnancy wasn’t one of them! So they did a urine pregnancy test at the beginning, and then we meet with the doctor who is telling me all the things that could be wrong (including I’ve gained 5 lbs, “maybe it’s that extra weight”!!) Then the nurse walked in and said that I had the faintest positive test she’d ever seen. So they sent us to the hospital for a blood test and it confirmed I hadn’t started because I was pregnant! We were in absolute shock! It was a terrifying pregnancy because every second of it, I was worried something would go wrong. I don’t think I lost that feeling until I was finally holding her in our postpartum/mother-baby room. But, January 15, 2009, the worst 2 years of my life finally came to an end and the rest of my life started!!
Little did we know, God had funny plans for us. He quickly helped us make up for lost time! When Sydney was just a few days shy of 5 months old, we found out that we were expecting again! And at 1 year and 3 weeks, Sydney became a “big” sister to baby Eli! How quickly life can change!! 🙂

Looking forward to posting adorable pictures and funny stories about my crazy family that I love so much!